People under 50 are more likely to die suddenly because of an accident or injury than from coronavirus, a leading risk expert has said.

A medic in personal protective equipment (PPE) cares for a patient at the Intensive Care unit at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said people under 25 are more likely to die from flu or pneumonia, while under 40s have a greater risk of being killed in a road accident. The Cambridge University professor looked at the average risk for different age groups dying after contracting Covid-19 and compared it with the most recent yearly data from 2018. There have been 959 deaths involving Covid-19 recorded in more than 18 million people under 50 in England and Wales – more than 80% of which were of people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Age has an ‘extraordinary impact’ on the risk of dying with Covid-19, and in comparison, about one in 40 men over 90 have died with the virus.

Prof Spiegelhalter said: ‘The risk of dying once you’ve caught it is essentially a fixed number – it might have gone down now slightly because of what we are learning about treatments, but that is essentially a property of your own personal vulnerability – again, age hugely dominating.

The risk of dying in a road accident is higher than dying from coronavirus for younger age groups (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘But the risk of catching it will be lower in the future than it has been over the last 11 weeks or so, because we know from ONS (Office for National Statistics) surveys that the number of people, who are infectious, are infected and therefore can transmit disease, has been steadily dropping.’ While coronavirus is not going to disappear, even if there is a second peak of infections, he believes this will not be near the scale already experienced. The average risks include those with pre-existing medical conditions, so healthy under 50s have an even smaller risk, he said. He added: ‘These are just risks to the individuals themselves, they can still pose a risk to others and should protect the vulnerable. Without lockdown, these risks would have been higher.’ Prof Carl Heneghan, from the University of Oxford, said coronavirus is behaving less like a typical pandemic, where children are disproportionately affected, and more like a seasonal outbreak which affects elderly people more. He said: ‘I think that context is really important, because as we move into next winter, we’re more likely to see more deaths in children from influenza than we are from Covid.

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